This episode begins by replaying the previous episode's confrontation between Kaoru and Fukiko. Kaoru shouts "Who's there?" and Nanako conspicuously runs away. Fukiko turns to leave, but Kaoru is like "Wait wait, we're not finished here" and Fukiko is like "Mind your own business." The way she says it has some blink-and-you'll miss it implications about Kaoru and Rei's friendship that are extra-interesting in the context of this episode.
Still shocked by what Kaoru said, Nanako makes her way to Rei's apartment, pondering what a sad and mirror-filled life she leads. She finds the picnic basket still outside Rei's apartment with the food untouched. Back home, she tries calling Rei and has an internal monologue about not wanting to intrude too much on Rei's life, just make sure she's alright, which you know means she's going to get very involved in Rei's life.
Getting back to the episode, Nanako ponders the why's of what she learned about Rei and Fukiko. We see Rei stopping in front of Fukiko's gated mansion while Fukiko plays piano inside, before walking away while downing more pills. Kaoru pops out of a cab that she must owe a ton of fare, since she's been looking all over for Rei.
Anyway, Nanako makes it out of the house. Rei wakes up, hearing the piano song that she and Fukiko frequently play. She runs screaming to the shower and turns it on without removing her clothes, making her self-hatred abundantly clear.
Kaoru dries her off, Rei tells her she's cold, and I guess they are comfortable being naked in bed together.
(My girlfriend when I pointed it out: "That's weird. It's weird unless it's gay.") The Kaoru x Rei fodder in this episode is interesting, because I don't remember the manga having any.
Nanako arrives and doesn't seem to think anything of Kaoru still buttoning her shirt when she answers the door. Nanako helps Kaoru get Rei into her old-timey pajamas, and she and Kaoru leave. Kaoru and Nanako watch the sun rise and bond over being in Rei's harem. They both want to be there when Rei is ready to stop trying to deal with the shitty aspects of her life on her own, although Kaoru isn't sure she'll live long enough for it.
Nanako's outfit and body language in this portion of this episode are noticeably butchier than normal, which is interesting. I'm not sure it has any significance beyond whoever is in charge of the characters' gajillion outfits thinking it'd be neat to see her like that, though.
Anywho, Nanako compares her friendship with Tomoko to Kaoru and Rei's, and feels like there's not only more maturity between them, but a sense of destiny.
That day at school, we see Nanako, Tomoko, and Mariko having lunch together, and it feels a little creepy that they're getting along so well.
Fukiko's guilt starts catching up with her as she imagines seeing Rei under the elm tree. The students make up some spooky rumors about the school (hi, every later girls' school series featuring supernatural school mysteries), including one that hits a little close to home for Nanako,
and Mariko explains that they do that every year before exams.
Then Mariko explains the spookiest rumor from the previous year.
It's basically about a butchy suit-wearing girl and a refined, ladylike girl who were students long ago being seen playing the piano together and going up and down a particular stairwell holding hands. The students the rumors are based on felt the weight of society against their being in love,
and apparently committed suicide together under the elm tree.
Nanako's commentary on this story is interesting in light of how her romance with Rei turns out. It feels a little meta, and I wonder if that is intentional.
Nanako and Fukiko both hear Rei playing the piano in the clock tower and rush there. Fukiko doesn't see Rei there and thanks she's hallucinating again, but Rei pops up again.
Rei confronts Fukiko about her lying about meeting at the elm tree, and Fukiko falsely comforts her, Nanako watching all this in bewilderment and a little horror.
It isn't a coincidence that Fukiko's face is blacked out as she laughs while leaving. The direction of this scene in general is effectively creepy.
Rei jumps off the balcony, into a tree. She safely lands like a besuited cat and dashes off while Nanako calls to her. Nanako follows her to the clock tower, and finds that she is too hopped up on pills to distinguish her from Fukiko. Rei is like "Remember when we promised to die together?" and Nanako is like "What in the ever-loving fuck" and the episode ends there.
I was mistaken that there are daggers in this episode- they are in the next episode, along with more drama surrounding the layers peeling back from Rei and Fukiko's storyline.